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Article Published July 27, 2020

Deep River/Essex Survey Focuses on Reopening

By Rita Christopher/

Residents of Essex and Deep River can let their town governments know what issues they have faced during this period of COVID-19 and what issues they worry about as communities go forward into the Stage Three reopening scenario scheduled for August. Town residents have until Friday, July 31 to complete the voluntary questionnaire. The responses are all anonymous. The survey can be found on the town websites and

Chester residents have already completed the survey and their results have been tabulated.

Questions include basic information like the number of people in the household, their ages, and whether any member of the household has the responsibility of caring for an elderly or disabled person in the family’s home, in a residential facility, or an elderly or disabled person who lives independently, with or without support. The questionnaire also asks whether anyone in the household is considered an essential worker.

A series of questions cover what kinds of activities the people in the household participated in before COVID-19 and what kinds of activities they have participated in during Phase Two, this July, and what activities they are likely to engage in during Phase Three in August.

In addition, respondents are asked about what kinds of governmental services local state and federal if any, they have contacted during the pandemic.

Most of the questions are fill-in-the bubble responses, but there are also some open-ended queries including what strategies have helped people through the isolation of sheltering in place and how to talk to children about COVID-19.

In Chester, there were responses from 630 households, about one-third of the town, according to Allison Abramson, executive director of Tri-Town Youth Services.

“You need one-third to have a healthy sample,” she said.

Among the people’s concerns going forward were some of the same issues that developed in the early days of COVID-19 awareness and quarantine.

“People were worried about whether they would run out of PPE [personal protection equipment] supplies. They wanted to know, ‘Do we have what we need?’” Abramson said.

There was also continuing concern about wellbeing and physical health and contracting the virus. More than half the people who answered said they worried about their physical health.

“That’s helpful data as people think about structuring reopening,” Abramson noted.

Some 13 percent of the Chester respondents said they had the responsibility for an elderly relative, an important statistic Abramson pointed out, because it related to a more vulnerable population.

Overall in Chester, one-third of the households that responded expressed some concern over mental health given the demands of isolation, distancing, and the stress of worrying about contracting the virus.

Responses indicated that 10 percent of households in Chester said they were food insecure. Abramson explained that “food insecure” not only means worry about having sufficient food but decisions on where to allocate financial resources and choices of how to spend money to cover basic necessities.

“It’s about making choices between paying bills and paying for food,” Abramson said.

How the towns use the information from the survey is up to them.

“Each town will have its own process for reopening and each will use the data as they see fit,” she noted. “But we are thrilled that all the towns are eager for the data.”

“We want to reach out and respond to the needs of the people in Essex during this time of COVID-19,” First Selectman Norm Needleman said.

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald also pointed out that the information was essential for future decisions.

“This is important for Deep River. Part of moving forward is learning the new needs for the new normal,” he said.

To find the survey on COVID-19 Recovery and Reopening, visit or Surveys should be completed by July 31.